The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here is how Chopin’s famous “Fantaisie-Impromptu” sounds – and looks | March 29, 2018

By Jacob Stockinger

One of the most popular pieces in the piano repertoire is the “Fantaisie-Impromptu” in C-sharp minor, Op. 66, by Frederic Chopin (below).

Chances are good that you already know how it sounds.

But it case you don’t, here is one popular interpretation – with almost 9 million views – thanks to a YouTube video by the Chinese pianist Yundi Li (now known simply as Yundi). In 2000, at the age of 18, he became the youngest person ever to win the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition.

And here is how it looks in an arresting, artistic and ingenious graphic display that might help you to understand the work structurally, rhythmically, melodically and harmonically:

Do you have any reactions to the playing and the seeing?

Do you want to see more of such graphic interpretations? Of what specific pieces?

Leave your thoughts in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. I found this visual representation interesting because you can look ahead and see where the music is headed.


    Comment by Janet M — March 29, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

  2. It did, for me, as you suspected, help me “understand (see, anyway) the work’s structure.”

    Might be a good idea for other beginners to watch.



    Comment by Michael P Scott — March 29, 2018 @ 10:00 am

  3. I’ve seen smalin’s graphical representations before and commend him for the work and effort he puts into them.

    If you don’t know anything about them it is easy to dismiss them with trivial comments. They represent all facets of a composition including key changes by changes in major color groupings.

    Having said that, they can induce a visual hypnotic effect which can strain the eyes.

    OTH, watching performances of a pianist up close or of orchestral performances – unless they are historically significant – are pretty useless and distract more than aide in musical appreciation.


    Comment by Augustine — March 29, 2018 @ 9:45 am

    • Really useless is this comment: “… watching performances of a pianist up close or of orchestral performances – unless they are historically significant – are pretty useless….”

      Millions of people on YouTube would beg to differ.


      Comment by fflambeau — March 29, 2018 @ 7:56 pm

  4. Agreed… I don’t need to also be visually stimulated. I have my own imagination, and everyone’s reaction to a beautiful piece of music is unique.


    Comment by jim — March 29, 2018 @ 6:34 am

  5. It’s a nice video and the Chopin playing is brilliant. I can do without the graphic lights and whistles, thank you.


    Comment by fflambeau — March 29, 2018 @ 12:14 am

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